Pro DSLRs Lose Value More Slowly Than Consumer Ones, Study Finds


New cameras are like new computers. Both of them depreciate quite quickly as new technologies and new models are churned out year after year. This presents a perpetual problem for photographers, as many constantly grapple with the question of whether to upgrade their camera to a more recent model, or whether to purchase a higher-end model so that it keeps its value longer.

Market research software company Terapeak recently did a study that looks at depreciation in Canon EOS DSLRs. The results are pretty interesting.

The study used a tool called Terapeak for eBay, which aggregates and analyzes transactions on eBay. Data regarding new Canon camera body sales were imported into the tool and then crunched to see what would turn out.

The chart above is an apples to apples comparison of depreciation for four Canon models released over the past year: the Canon 1D X (MSRP: $6,799), the Canon 5D Mk III (MSRP: $3,499), the Canon 6D (MSRP: $2,099), and the Canon 650D (MSRP: $850).


This is the same comparison graph with some trend lines added in:


Here’s what the study discovered: cheaper cameras do indeed depreciate faster than more expensive models.

High end cameras such as the 1D X and 5D Mk3 depreciate at roughly the same rate (i.e. they both hold their values relatively well), even though one model is much more expensive than the other (the former is double the price of the latter).

For some reason, even though the full frame 6D is billed as a prosumer camera that sits alongside the 5D Mark II and Mark III, it depreciates at roughly the same rate as the entry-level 650D.

After 26 weeks after being launched, the 1D X and 5D Mark III are still worth about 90% of their original market price, but the 6D and 650D have plummeted down to around 70% of their original values.

The key takeaways of these findings are: (1) purchasing a more expensive and higher-tier camera doesn’t ensure that the body will depreciate more slowly, and (2) purchasing a higher class of camera (pro versus amateur) is the way to go if you’d like to have a camera that keeps its value for a longer period of time.

For a closer look at how this study was conducted and the results that it came to, check out the reports on the Terapeak blog here and here.

  • knutsonkk

    well…20% from 600 euro or 10% from 6000 euro..what do you prefer?
    Overall you loose MORE Money on the top models…..

  • knutsonkk

    btw… the 6D was to expensive from the start.
    the D600 is the reason Canon had to adjust the Price.

  • The all might

    Well considering the 6500/t4i has nothing on the canon cameras from 2009 (same exact image quality), I’d say it was overpirced to begin with

  • Leonardo Abreu

    Buy a cheaper camera and a good lens… There you go!

  • Brad Trent

    Gee…hate to sound like a bloody dinosaur, but every single thing about this story pisses me off, cuz my Nikon and Canon film cameras didn’t lose value over the entire Goddamn time I owned them!!! But now…as a result of the new paradigm…I hafta buy new, super-spendy bodies every time my camera rep farts. FML

  • Peter Grifoni

    i guess this just confirms what most us already knew, that is, that buying a newly released camera regardless of its “catergory” is just throwing away money.

  • upsaha

    who forces you?

  • Fra Lippi

    I don’t think the trend of cameras losing value this quickly will continue. Photo quality increased by leaps and bounds from 2000 to about 2009. But over the past 4 years we haven’t seen really big changes for still photos. Mostly you just see improvements in video.

  • brandon

    I thought nearly anyone would have guessed this to be the case without a company actually doing research on it. but really, should we be looking at % loss over time, or dollar value lost? i would also wager that this is really just due to the fact that the higher end cameras are on a longer refresh cycle. anyone remember the resale value of a canon 1dsmk2? for years after it’s release you could sell one for a very large % of what you paid for it.

  • Zach Sutton Photography

    Pretty obvious study….Canon/Nikon release 5 or so consumer DSLRs a year, and usually only 2 or so Pro level SLRs….

  • zhixian

    you don’t say… new xxxD come out every year

  • Daniel Lin

    In today’s edition of obvious microeconomics principles…

  • JoeJoe

    And you spent how much on film an processing during that time cuz that is also a factor in your paradigm…

  • Swade

    You shouldn’t have to buy a new body until yours dies these days. You don’t have to buy anything. YOU are making it depreciate by updating your body unnecessarily soon.

  • Norshan Nusi

    Even with the D4 is around, D3s remains very expensive.

    Newer is not always better….

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  • ninpou_kobanashi

    Doesn’t that depend on what you do with your camera? If you make a living off of your tools, and the new tools enable you to do things that you could not do before, can’t the cost be justified? It’s no coincidence that Nikon released the D4 and D800 right before the 2012 Olympics.

  • Jeff

    Cheap 24×36 ? Hard to find. Dont know about Canon but in Nikon this is the D700 that you can find for 900€. It would be stupid to use a 35 1.4 on a small sensor camera like the ( great ) D200 and D300. But they are still great for 85mm and more. Well, brand new camera = 6D or D600 = 2000€ and more.

  • Delong

    Hey OP, educate yourself on using linear regression correctly!

  • Yola

    You just a very good lens, and you won’t need to upgrade your camera body; that’s my take on this.

  • Yola

    You need just a very good lens, and you would not need to upgrade your camera body…(I’m correcting my previous comment; since I cannot re-edit).